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tv   [untitled]    September 16, 2010 3:00am-3:30am PST

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changes of the ordinance in affecting trees, wasn't that decision an intelligent one? would the 7 hucks block be i conic if the city had said no for tourists and film companies be what it is today had the city said no. my wife and i apale to you to say yes instead of no. doing so will be a win-win for our neighborhood and for the city. moreover the hundreds of thousands of people who visit our historic district each year will applaud your decision as enlightened. and why? they will have two blocks of steiner painted ladies side by side to appreciate and won't be tripping, falling and possibly suing the city to see them. thank you. now ben alison. >> good evening, commissioners. my name is ben alison and i
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live at 892 steiner street. i'm the president of the alamo neighborhood association. the board voted unanimously to support our proposal to replace the trees. alamo square is the heart of our neighborhood and tourists come to see our victorian homes. we have fillmore street and we also have the corridor, which has transformed the neighborhood into a wonderful boulevard of shops, restaurants, art galleries and coffee shops. this included planting of trees and adding landscape of trees and flora to the median. this is what's going on around us. every tourist destination as an
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icon that every visitor has to see. paris has the i've ell tour, new york city has the statue of liberty and san francisco has the golden gate bridge and the painted ladies of post card row. this is on the eastern view from on top of alamo square hill. and this image of san francisco that everyone sees, over 15 million visitors come to our city and most of them want to take a photograph of this. the allure is understandable. more than a century of history on thousands of glossy photos. in the two blocks of victorians on the eastern side of the square offering differing perspectives of this view and countless post cards and images of our blocks. what sort of face do you guys want to see from the top of
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alamo square? it is important to keep overgrown existing trees -- >> [inaudible] commissioner fung: i had two questions for the appellant. your report indicates that a recommendation would be just a smaller size, but same species. is that what your intent is? >> it is. i remember standing at this podium at the hearing with d.p.w. and i remember saying we'll put in 36-inch trees. and our arborist who is here to speak recommend that the 800 block of steiner is more beneficial for the long-term health of the trees and make sure we do this right and put in 24-inch boxes. commissioner fung: i understand the size but it said same
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species. >> i think it is the flowering and one of the trees that is approved and recommended by the bureau of urban foffers try. i didn't -- frofert try. i took this picture from the 1940's and put in the trees from the 700 block. so this is similar size of what this block will look like. commissioner fung: neighbors want a topiary look to their trees? >> yes. we will be different from the 700 block, but will be the same and brian can speak to the size of the trees and how they will -- i don't know the term, but crown at a certain height. and i think he'll discuss how they will not lift the sidewalk up on a regular basis.
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>> could i make a comment on that? you asked about the topiary look. we are trying to put in a different look and mirror what we did in the park. they put in different cherry trees in the park. and we thought that would look good on our block. >> that answer your question, commissioner? mr. bartlett, i have two questions, are you connected or related to bartlett tree service? >> i'm not. >> and the second is, could you talk about the property that's meant to be subdivided into four lots or single-family homes. show us where that is in the photograph. >> this is the corner of grove and 800 block of steiner.
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front door is right here on the corner. historic mansion built in 1895. french american school. vice president goh: what did you say about the french american school? >> nonhistoric school wing in the 1960's. we are in process of d.p.w. to subdivide this lot and demolish the nonhistoric portion of the building, creating three lots that front on steiner. so you have 940 grove and 802 steiner, 804 steiner and 808 steiner. vice president goh: and in this photograph, which parts will be demolished? >> this is rsh right about where the trunk of this tree is. from here down. vice president goh: you need to get rid of these trees to have driveway access? >> we don't.
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they are well located for that. but actually, this whole process started -- and this light well -- here's a better picture of it. there was a tree that used to be in this light well here that hung over the steiner street and i learned quickly any tree within 10 feet of the public right of way. so i filed that and got to know chris and karla and got permits to remove that. i brought up the idea of getting to know all of my neighbors. what do you guys think about working on replacing the tree scape in front of our building because it does block our historic buildings. back in march, we got together with chris up at the house and talked about how to go about doing this. we filed the application that is part of your package.
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i can go into great detail. we were enthusiastic about it. and -- vice president goh: thank you. president peterson: move into public comment, commissioners or further questions? >> i have a question of ms. short that has to do with the photograph. do you want to wait? >> i can wait. president peterson: are there members of the public who would like to speak on this item? if we get a showing of hands how many members of the public will speak on this project. thank you. >> i went to the manager for the barns and noble store at fisherman's whamp -- wharf and had to keep 12 copies of the
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book because people would come into the store and ask for it. it is something that is intrinsic to the value of the building. if you have a victorian house and you decide to put it on the market, i think one of the things that's going to detract from the sales price of the building is the inability of the person who is buying it to look at the front of the house. and if you have an inconsistenty where you can't see the row of houses and that is the most interesting thing of this arrangement and you have two city blocks which are similar, although they have their unique qualities. and having trees which some are big, some are small, some are wide, some are narrow, does detract from that. if you are going to spend -- i know what they spend to repaint these houses when they have to be repainted because of the wood work and things like that, if you are going to spend all that money to repaint the house
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what's the point if you are going to have a huge tree that blocks anybody from effectively seeing it. since it is next to a park, anybody who would spend the time in the park would be immensely benefited by the fact that they could see these great examples, you know, you know, unique buildings, something you don't see anywhere else in the united states. >> my name is o'donnell and i live at 705 scott street across the park from the block we're talking about. i have lived in that area for 36 years and i fully support the application of the owners' of the block on 800 steiner street. i want to make a couple of comments. first of which is that my next door neighbor at the corner of grove and scott street has four
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ficus trees. those ficus trees destroy sidewalks. they eat them up. they have created large wells to try to deal with it. but the other thing that ficus trees do is shed. and they just don't shed leaves, they shed limbs, large limbs. and it's dangerous. and there are a lot of tourists in this area because of the attraction of the painted ladies. and i think it would be much better to have the ornamental cherries than a ficus. there are eight blocks around the park, only one is treated with care by this city. it's the 700 block of steiner street where the painted ladies are. all of the rest of us are treated like orphans. and this proposal would
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dramatically improve the northern block next to on steiner street and do something to improve the whole view of the park. and i say to you that it seems to me from listening to everybody there is an equal protection clause for trees in this city. and some trees aren't very good trees. and some are. let's do the right thing and produce a better situation by replacing the existing trees with the ones the applicant has proposed. >> next speaker. >> good evening, commissioners. i live in the 800 block of grove street. just a couple of blocks away from steiner. and i have lived there for 30
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years. for 30 years, i've wondered why such a notly row of trees would be on such a wonderful glock block. i realize there's an ordinance that also in 30 years living in this city, i realize the ordinance has changed and if they are too rigid, they do a disservice to the citizenry and the homeowners of the city. and in this case, when a whole group of people have banded together to make their block more attractive and more beneficial to the city, i think it would be appalling to see that they would not be granted their appeal. thank you. >> next speaker. >> my name is brian and i'm a certified arborist.
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>> are you here on behalf of the appellant? >> yes. >> you need to speak during the time allotted to the appellant and can't speak during the public comment. you are here as an agent. do they pay you for your services? >> you need to speak during their time. you can share your three minutes if you like at the end to speak under that time. any other member of the public who would like to speak under public comment? please step forward. >> good evening.
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i'm paul and i live on the 700 block of steiner and lived there for 17 years and been living in san francisco for close to 60 years. i love the city and i love the trees. there is in this particular case, i feel there is more to consider than just the trees. when in 1995, i was living in the same home as i live now, one of the painted ladies, we all banded together on our block just the way these people are doing now. and we all got together and we went to the department of public works. they listened to us. we had a disastrous block just the way this 800 block is, a
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michigan mash of all different trees -- mish mash of all different trees and most of them inappropriate because they are new zealand christmas trees, the same we have in the 800 block. we moved forward on this. it was -- we got approval from the department of public works and they encouraged us to go to it. we got rid of all the unfortunate trees that were on the block, similar to the ones that are on the 800 block now. in their place, we planted nine trees. all consistent in height. i can't tell you the number of tourists that see these every single day. and they see the 800 block every single day. bus after bus after bus comes
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by to see these trees. there is more than to consider than just the tree. it's the beauty of this city. >> thank you. >> any other public comment? seeing none. we move into rebuttal. ms. short, you have three minutes. >> thank you. i don't think i have too much more to add other than to make a note that enflowering trees are capable of doing damage. they aren't known to have aggressive roots as ficus or red flowing gum. it depends on the root stock. and any tree can damage the sidewalk. while it seems like we may be trying to preserve existing trees, there is no guarantee that a wholesale replacement
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tree would do damage. we see sidewalk disrupters that don't do any damage and we see trees that you wouldn't expect to cause sidewalk damage, but do. to say there will never be a cost to the city if these trees are removed and replaced is an uncertainty at best. commissioner garcia: let's go with what you just said first and i have another question. if right now, the city maintains these trees and any damage caused by these trees to the sidewalk, is it not true that if the neighbors get to put the new trees, they now have responsibility for the trees and therefore for the sidewalk? >> at this point in time, the city would have to fix the sidewalk condition that currently exists and the property owners would be
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required to sign a maintenance agreement with the city. so they would be responsible for getting the new trees established and then after three years of establishment, if the trees are in good condition and able to survive, the city would then take over maintenance. >> anyway to transfer responsibility to the owners? >> that could be part of the package. commissioner garcia: the other question i have, is it possible to quantify what the difference would be -- let's see, we are talking about, they want to remove eight trees and being allowed to remove one and going to replace it with 14 trees. can we quantify what that difference is in terms of echo logical benefit? >> we could look at the difference of the lost track diameter and that gives you a benefit based on the reduction
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of the diameter, measuring the existing trees. commissioner garcia: we have to be getting closer to a zero sum? >> certainly more trees, yeah. you would mitigate the loss of the trees. again, it will be going in on a much smaller size. 14 for eight, nine is certainly better than a one-for-one replacement. >> the ones being proposed for the 800 block the same as in the 700 block? >> no. they are proposing to plant the cherry tree. it is a smaller tree than what they currently have. but the 700 block is f inch cus trees and have been maintained over a small height over the years. >> and will the cherry trees reach a height greater than the ficus trees ultimately? >> they will reach a height
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greater than the trees on the 700 block if they are allowed to grow to their natural height. >> what is the age and life span of the trees that are in the 800 block? >> we don't. again, i would say they are mature trees, but that we would expect that given the health and condition of the tree they would live for many more years. >> how many times does the city have to replace the sidewalk in 800 block of steiner? >> we have replaced it before in some places. i sco get you the -- i could get you the details from our data base. we have done one tree more than one time. >> thank you. commissioner fung: on the 700 block, does the city maintain those trees? >> i believe the property owners have been maintaining
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them in that topiary fashion. commissioner fung: one of the photos, it shows a very small tree that looks like it has been planted fairly recently. was that done by the city? >> it is a flowering cherry tree and planted as a 24-inch box. >> ms. short, it was mentioned by one of the appellants there was a trip-and-fall case that perhaps your department was not aware of. would that have any relevance with respect to the decision on removing trees? >> no. i think the decision to remove the tree is based on the condition of the tree. that didn't involve a tree but an empty tree basin. >> thank you. >> mr. bartlett, you have three minutes of rebuttal.
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>> i'm new to this process. i turn it over to brian and let him speak about the trees that are there and in our plan. i have a letter from supervisor dated september 7 that i won't read. but in the last sentence, he says i'm in favor of the appellants and support their application. i turn it over to brian. i met him on a project with berkeley and i was impressed with his knowledge of trees and we brought him on board to have expert opinion and assistance to try and get this done for our city. >> my name is brian and i'm a certified arborist and i have some design background from u.c. berkeley. and i was just asked to look at the project overall and look at the site and existing trees. some of the first things i noticed were that the trees
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were moving the concrete which you already heard about. in the city's report, they talk about it as well. one thing -- there is a couple things about street trees. they are always being replaced. it's not commun common to take out a city tree and replace it with another one. in this case, because of the steepness of the grade, i think the tripping hazard is even more of an issue. you know, basically, the momentum of somebody going down steiner and catching even a small heaved piece of concrete i think is an issue. the red flowering gum and a lot of residue that then grows a certain type of mold and creates kind of a sticky and sometimes even slippery surface
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and i think that's just another issue. i think overall, i would just say personally that i think having a more uniformed look and getting rid of some of the hazards of these trees would be a good thing for this block. >> i have a question of mr. bartlett. i don't know if you have any further presentations on your rebuttal. >> i don't. >> so you're the owner of one of the properties on that street? >> 940 grove. >> i saw a different address it says here, -- are you ted bartlett? >> yes. >> 954 ashbury street. >> that's where i live. >> are you a developer? >> developer.
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940 grove. the previous three owners. it was an ack tech tur school from the 1940's, the french-american school. >> i just heard you reference the berkeley project and wanted to get that clarified. >> i live at 838 steiner and i'm one of the apell ants and i want the commissioners to understand that there may be a real estate developer. he is also the person very interested in this community who has worked carefully to have someone to pull us together to hope we could accomplish this project. we don't anybody to have some
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notion that this is just all ted's. >> the matter is submitted. >> real estate developer in this room at least is not necessarily the majority. i think there is a friction between something that is not so good and something that is very good. something that is not so good is the fact that there will be some loss in terms of the eco logical benefits in terms of the trees that are there. and we heard michelle address the issue and she doesn't know the exact figure, but some of the slack -- some of the loss that would be achieved by removing these trees, will be taken up by the fact that eight trees will be replaced by 14
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trees. well, nine, because one has been allowed to be torn down. what will be gained i think is terrific. one, we are going to reward people for caring about their neighborhood and trying to do something that is beneficial to the streetscape and the beauty of this city as they are trying to dofment i think i would feel better about this if the neighborhood -- i intend to try to argue that the bureau of urban forestry be overturned and let these people do what they want to do but i would like it contingent upon the fact that they would accept ongoing responsibility after three years have passed when they would have to take responsibility for the maintainance of the new trees and they would continue to take responsibility for the trees as well as for the surrounding sidewalks.
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i don't know how we would get to that. commissioner fung: i think that's something they would want to do and keep these trees artificially small. commissioner garcia: they don't have the sporns built. commissioner fung: -- responsibility. commissioner fung: the city may take a different king ept as to the natural growth of these trees. for me, there's two issues here. one is the rights of the property owners to have the type of tree that they want in front of their house. i'm not necessarily in agreement

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